Melissa, you are a Brazilian artist internationally recognized for your evocative 3-dimensional installations, found-object sculptures, collages and photography, and with a long exhibition curriculum, how does your path begin and why?

I’ve been doing art since I was very young. I was brought up in Brazil and have always been fascinated by nature, archaeology, culture and mythology. As a child I travelled all over the world and collected artefacts from different countries, as well as treasures from nature such as feathers, stones, plants, insects, seeds, etc. I had no idea I would someday be incorporating these objects into my art.

Your work is very varied, what is the common thread between the different projects, what are you exploring and what are you
looking for?

I think the common thread between my various series is nature and spirit. I work intuitively and always feel like I am being guided. My main focus is to inspire others to look at nature closely, but at the same time to look within themselves. I feel there is a wonderful communion when I am working with nature, which in turn causes others to see nature in new and powerful ways. My work is often quite detailed and I find that it’s not until the end of a project that I really ‘understand’ the organic materials I’ve been working with. It’s almost as if I am becoming nature.

Tell us how much your culture and origins inspire your way of feeling and creating.

I am very inspired by culture, symbolism and mythology. When I start a project I research the symbolism of the materials in different cultures as well as my own. The Brazilian carnival, nature and spiritualism have all been important influencers.

In your last series ‘Skins’, you have created sculptural clothing hybrids, utilizing natural materials such as leaves, stones, fur, eggshells, wheat, rice, crystals, scales, sticks, feathers, pinecones and shells. What are you inspired by and what is the message you want to convey to your users?

I am inspired by nature and I want the viewer to experience the magic I see in it.  I am also inspired by the process of collecting organic materials, exploring ways in which to manipulate them into a wearable art, and finally bringing them to life through model photography.

Ebinum Brothers, we came across you through a video with the song ‘Where is my love’ by Syml and we immediately fell in love with you. You are pure poetry for us. Tell us about your roots and your history.

We thank you so much for loving our work, we really appreciate that and we are so grateful.
We are Victory Ebinum, 22 years, and Marvel Ebinum, 19 years old. We are artistic communicators from Lagos, Nigeria. We’ve been dancing for a very long time, since we were kids, we can’t really remember the precise time. Being born and raised in a country where Afro dance reigned, our contemporary approach to movement took time and effort to be appreciated. No one gave a damn about what we were doing. Only our family and the few friends of ours understood and always supported us. So it was very difficult for people to actually accept us. But now it’s changing, because I think people see the impact that we’re making in the world. Through our choreographies, we have always honed in on themes that matter to us: racism, mental health, the planet. Themes that naturally overlap.

When Victory started, he danced with a couple of people, but no one seemed to work out. When we began together, it was just perfect, and we’ve been doing that for more than 10 years.

Your choreographies look like narration. Are they created by you? What do you want to convey and which emotional chords do you want to touch in those who look at you?

Thank you so much. Yes, anything you see us doing is created by us, except for one project last year which was a collaboration with Jacob Jonas The Company with the choreography by Vinson Fraley.
Regarding your question about the emotional chords we want to touch, we love to tell stories about life itself, how people go through it, the bright parts and the down times. We love adding that in what we do.
We are inspired by our life experiences as we adventure a lot in life and we look at the struggles we have passed through and how we overcame everything. We use movements to express ourselves and we want to inspire other people who are going through different kinds of struggles to keep moving and pushing the dream. We always talk about love because the message we want to convey to the world is that it is the most important value in life.

For example, ‘VOICE’ is a short film about race and belonging, division and connection, alienation and kinship. It has been created in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. This film leans on the sentiment that all we have is each other.

It seems that your creations speak different languages but, in reality, they all have a strong identity and imprint. Who is Konstantin Kofta and where does his artistic production come from?

The identity is kept on purpose while it is a professional approach to what I do. I don’t have a real notion of who I am and where I come from. All I can say is that I am a tiny particle of one big and ingenious organism that nourishes me and lights my way.

Each element can be a source of inspiration for you, nature, the human body, architectural details, isn’t it that in your research you are actually looking for the soul of things?

Every form is informative in itself, and I merely try to comprehend it: what it means to me and how I can express it.

Nature, human body, artistic influences.

An artist explores sensations; what he/she feels in various environments and conditions. These sensations are best expressed when one works with nature, as we all are inseparable from it and understand such language easily.
Nature is not merely the external visible world, just as a real person is not the body we perceive and tend to be associated with. There is still your material self, your food and your busy schedule, but… there is something that frees you into the joyous bliss of a moment, something you have found.

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